Monday, 29 October 2018

Who protects your privacy?

The 2016 Presidential elections in the U.S brought forward many concerns about the use of social media and privacy issues. Cybersecurity has become the issue of our times, and more citizens are becoming paranoid about their personal information, and the extent to which they are protected by their governments.
Facebook and Google are being investigated by several governments regarding their data collection and how they are using it. Organizations like Cambridge Analytica harvested advertising data, and used them in the pro- Brexit, as well as the Trump Presidential campaigns. While there is no proof, it is very conceivable that other firms may collect data from Facebook and other social media users.
The increasing use of personal data collection is alarming because there seems to be no end to the ability of criminals as well as governments to access the data and use it without permission. Foreign governments interfere with the democratic process during elections, and criminals are attacking individuals and corporations. Some of the most infamous 2018 breaches have included the following:
·         Cathay Pacific – 9.4 million passengers
·         Facebook – 90 million users
·         Uber -57 million customers
These are only some of the many breaches experienced by corporations, but government data have not been immune to attacks, and these breaches involve very personal data which include Social Security, and  Healthcare data etc. So it seems that data which used to be private are no longer so, even when shared with government agencies.
This brings me to my next point concerning government data collection.  Some years ago, the Harper government decided to eliminate the Long-form census which collected data about housing, transport, employment, income and other key attributes required by various tiers of governments to plan and deliver public services. The outcry from the Chief statistician Munir Sheikh, was such that he resigned his position. In some ways I can understand the concern about who collects data and for what purpose. But today I am more concerned about what is collected and the security issue.
Governments can collect data, but how certain are they to keep them secured? The ability to collect data through the information system is so easy that what is being collected should concern citizens. Recently it has been reported that the Canadian government will be asking financial institutions to collect and provide data from some 500,000 Canadians without their knowledge. According to a report from Global News:   “the national statistical agency plans to collect “individual-level financial transactions data” and sensitive information, like social insurance numbers (SIN), from Canadian financial institutions to develop a “new institutional personal information bank. Statistics Canada will be acquiring individual payments and income history information from financial institutions,”
Canadians should not only be alarmed that their private data will be collected without their consent, but that they may not be assured that their information may not be used by criminals in case of a breach. There is no guarantee that any data collected by private or public sector organizations is immune form cyber hacking and theft.
In my opinion, this latest government collection of data reeks of ‘Big Brother’. While there may have been concerns about the abolition of the Long-form census, we should be more concerned about the government’s brazen intrusion in our private lives, and its inability to protect our privacy.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Going down the rabbit hole

Ever since the defeat of Hilary Clinton by Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential elections, politics in the U.S have turned upside down. The losing Democrats have resorted to resistance, obstruction and even violence by some of their supporters.  The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has brought a new dimension to the left’s ire, accusations and delusion.

The claim of sexual assault committed by Judge Kavanaugh some four decades ago was brought up by Democrats at the eleventh hour of the confirmation hearing by the Judiciary Committee. As a result we saw a repeat of the kabuki dance always performed by the Democrats when the Republicans nominate a Supreme Court judge. Their ugly character assassination came to the fore again just like they did when Judge Robert Bork and Judge Clarence Thomas were nominated. Democrats are obsessed by sexual abuse when it comes to conservative nominees, and yet ignore the dalliances and abuse perpetrated by their own. Character assassination has become a trade mark of the Democrats.

While abuse of any human being, albeit man or woman, is abhorrent and should never be condoned, we should never attack somebody with unsubstantiated accusations. In this case Judge Kavanaugh has been investigated six times by the FBI for each of his previous positions as a judge, yet that was not enough when a number of seemingly coerced witnesses came forward and accused him of crimes that have not been proven.

Both the victim Prof. Ford and judge Kavanaugh testified in lengthy depositions. While Dr. Ford was evasive on many answers, judge Kavanaugh’s answers were deemed to be temperamental when he defended himself from heinous and deviant sexual crimes.
Sen. Flake in another RINO moment sided with Democrats and demanded a further FBI investigation, which in the end may have helped the process to move forward. The Judiciary Chairman agreed to the request and the President ordered another FBI investigation which did not find any misconduct by the judge.

What happened should have been anticipated, The Democrats even before judge Kavanaugh was nominated decided that they were going to vote NO. It would have mattered very little who was nominated. Had Trump nominated George Washington or Mother Theresa, the same Democrat NO vote would have been cast. The strategy was to delay the proceedings as much as they could, and stop any Republican nominated judge from becoming a Justice of the Supreme Court so that perhaps they could win the mid-term elections in November. The Democrats’ behavior has been a demonstration of character assassination at its worst, and a continuation of their delusion and vengeance.

Having seen their hopes of a postponement dashed they also resorted to accusing judge Kavanaugh of being political when in his defence he quoted the Democrats tactics as being based on their affiliation with the resist movement and the Clintons, forgetting that in 2016 before the election of President Trump, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the New York Times is reported to have said:  "I can't imagine what this place would be -- I can't imagine what the country would be -- with Donald Trump as our president," Then they questioned his temperament, when he strongly and emotionally defended himself,

The continued attack on President Trump by the left is morphing into a real civil war. Democrat lawmakers condone attacks on opposition politicians, and anarchy. It is said that you reap what you sow, and the Democrats must remember that it was the Obama administration that started all this with the help of then Senate leader Harry Reid, when they passed Obamacare and their judiciary appointees.

As citizens, we should be very concerned about the Democrats’ tactics. Their disgusting performance as lawmakers should be a warning to us all, as they now believe that ‘the presumption of innocence’ is no longer the rule of law. That anybody can be accused of the most heinous crimes and should not be allowed to defend themselves, because what they say may be construed as being sexist, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, or homophobic. The left has now appropriated the right to free speech and have apparently become the sole arbiter of morality.

The left is not fighting Trump’s policies or judge Kavanaugh as much as they are fighting for globalism and progressivism. Their goal is to have open borders, redistribution of wealth and the continuation of failed Obama policies which they thought were going to be perpetuated and enhanced under a Clinton Presidency.

Unless we follow Alice in Wonderland, conservatives the world over must rise up to this growing progressive movement, which sometimes verges on socialism or even fascism.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Progressives, but no progress

As the U.S. mid-term elections approaches, Obama comes out of retirement to spew some more divisive progressive rhetoric. Still trying to save his failed legacy he accuses Trump of endangering democracy and takes credit for a booming economy. As the Democrats move further to the left, Obama ignores that hope and change never came when he was President, but that real progress is now underway.

Let us look at the facts under Obama. For eight years the GDP was 2% and he said that was the new normal. Those certain jobs would never come back. The unemployment rate did not go down; there were more people on food stamps than at any time in U.S history. More importantly the hope that he touted for never happened for the African American worker. Wage rates were static. These are some of the facts about the economy under Obama.

His appeasement policies created a real problem in the Middle East. Syria and Iran are now aligned with Russia. Chemical weapons were used frequently and his red line was crossed many times without any response. Furthermore his Iran Nuclear deal was accompanied by billions of dollars delivered in cash aboard a cargo plane: money now being used by Iran to support terrorism around the world. The real Russian collusion was between Obama and Putin when he was heard to say to President Medvedev to inform Putin : “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility”.

As for divisiveness, Obama created a culture that is now common among progressives. If you disagreed with him, you were a racist, if you were for borders and legal immigration, you were xenophobic, and if you were against Jihadists, you were Islamophobic. Today Democrats and the so-called resistance use epithets to describe anything that conservatives believe in. This culture of divisiveness now permeates campuses everywhere. Free speech is being stifled for the sake of political correctness. Obama divided the country, and perhaps the world along dangerous lines never seen before since the Nazi era in Germany. Entitlement and the lack of respect for existing laws is now normal. Under Obama, we have seen the rise of racist organizations like Black Lives Matter, and the Antifa movement and of course the idea of ‘white privilege’.

Now let us contrast Obama’s record to Trump’s: The second quarter GDP was 4.2 percent, unemployment 3.9 percent lowest in 50 years. Unemployment among African American at an all-time low of 6.6 percent, was 4.8 percent for Hispanics, 3.6 percent for whites, and 2.7 percent for Asian-Americans. The numbers of regulations which have been stifling the economy for years have been cut. Despite the hiccups of the North Korean summit, there has been no missile or nuclear test since the meeting. Despite the possibility of a trade war, Trump is trying to abolish as many tariffs with other trading nations. Now, his tactics may be unorthodox, his language may be bombastic and sometimes downright arrogant, but we must remember that he is not a politician in the old mold, and more importantly he is doing exactly what he promised during his electoral campaign.

I do not like the term ‘fake news’, but I will definitely label the media as biased. The media continuously publishes reports which are always negative about Trump’s administration. Everyday there is a barrage of attacks or reports of chaos in the White House. Books are being written to discredit him, claiming that he is unstable and perhaps mentally incapacitated.  His use of Twitter has a lot to do with the way that the press views him; his combative nature often fuels the debate. Despite all this, it is uncommon to see him get any credit for anything. On the other hand, the media is now praising the ‘third-coming’ of Obama. The so-called ‘resistance’ has not yet been able to digest the fact that Trump was elected as an antidote to the Obama presidency, which would have continued under Clinton.
Even worse, as a Canadian I am frustrated to see and read the news, which every day starts with a criticism of Trump’s policies. They very often ignore the dismal performance of the vacuous and incompetent Prime Minister Trudeau. The Canadian economy is stagnant in comparison to our neighbor; NAFTA negotiations are at a standstill due to the inability of the government to see the difference between economics and social issues. The Canadian government, instead of coming with new ideas, is counting on their progressive friends in Congress to do their bidding to stop Trump’s negotiating tactics.
Those who lament Trump’s election would like to bring back their entitlement polices , bigger government, more regulations, and appeasement, while stifling free speech, which apparently is now  the divine right of the left. The so-called ‘deep state’ will do anything to disrupt the Trump’s presidency.

Yes. The midterm elections are important, for U.S and the world. Should the Democrats win the House of Representatives, it will be chaos for the next two years. Impeachment of the President will take centre stage, foreign affairs will take a back stage, and the economic gains may be stalled. Trump’s opponents are wishing for a return of the Democrats, ignoring that today’s Democrats are no longer progressives but are now real socialists verging on the communists. This is how far left they have become.

Those who wish for a return to Obama’s past Presidency should remember that there is no progress under Progressives.

Monday, 3 September 2018

The new Davis Cup

As I watched 2018 US Open I cannot be more pleased with the rise of young Canadian players Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Denis Shapovalov. Despite the retirement of Daniel Nestor from competition, Canada has other players in the wings that can eventually, and very soon, be real contenders to win the Davis Cup. Milos Raonic, is still a pillar of  team Canada, and Vasek Pospisil the doubles Wimbledon Champion is our go to doubles player. However , as a former Tennis Canada Board of Director in my view there is a cloud over the World Cup of Tennis.

The  Davis Cup will see major changes to the competition. Beginning in 2019, 24 nations will compete in a home-or-away qualifying round in February, with the 12 winners advancing to the final tournament. Joining the qualified teams will be the four semifinalists from the previous year, plus two wild-card teams, who need to be in either the top 50 of the Davis Cup rankings or have a top-10 singles player to be eligible.

As a long time tennis enthusiast and administrator, I find that these changes will be detrimental to the development of the game. There is no doubt that the playing season has become too long and put the top players at greater risk of injuries. However changing the format of the Davis Cup, but adding two new events like the Laver Cup and the NextGen event goes contrary to the argument of too long a season.

The format that has been used for 117 years gave smaller nations the opportunity to stage an event with the best players of the world involved.. It provided the opportunity for tennis fans to watch their national players at home in a small venue, Who can forget the final rubber in Edmonton when Andrew Sznajder took the newly crowned French Open Champion, Andres Gomez of Ecuador, to fifth set? How about the inspiring defeat of world number one Stephan Edberg, by a young Daniel Nestor in Vancouver? These performances are etched in our memory and helped to create a new generation of players. Under the new format, it is unlikely that Canadians in towns like Halifax, Vancouver or Calgary, will be able to see a Davis Cup tie between Raonic/Shapovalov against Federer/Wawrinka on Canadian soil surrounded by a sea of Maple Leaf Flags.

The new format will cause two things to happen. Smaller nations with no large facilities will never stage the Davis Cup. The event will be staged only by countries with large facilities and be a money grab like the Olympics.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Russian roulette.

There is no doubt in my mind that  Russians interfered with the U.S 2016 elections, but had no effect on the ultimate results, In fact all powerful countries have interfered in other nations elections in one way or another. So why are we focused on collusion rather than democratic interference?

The whole idea of collusion comes from the Democrats who still cannot believe that the ‘shoe-in’ presumptive President Clinton lost the election to a political neophyte. From the first morning after Trump’s election the drum beat about collusion was started. Ever since then we have seen the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate the Russian interference. Despite the fact that people have been indicted, there still has been no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Instead what we have seen is a slew of incriminating evidence of bias within the FBI and the so-called ‘deep state’ against Trump.

On July 16, 2018 Trump met with Putin in a summit which is being demonized in many quarters. The Democrats called for the summit to be cancelled because, among other things, it was disclosed by the DOJ that 12 Russians, members of the Russian Intelligence Agency GRU were being indicted for interference in the 2016 elections. These operatives will never see a day in jail. The timing of the DOJ’s statement came just before the summit. Was it another deliberate attempt to sabotage Trump’s meeting?
There is also the continued debate about Trump’s reluctance to openly condemn Putin for the interference while dissing his Western allies. The irony is that while he does not condemn the Russian government, he is actually imposing enormous sanctions on some 700 Russians businessmen and companies. His bluster and language does not reflect his actions, in fact he has been tougher on Russia than his predecessor. As a result this brings me to my thoughts on the Russia/U.S relationship.
It is said that one should keep one’s friends close and one’s enemies closer. I believe that is exactly what Trump is doing in his relationship with North Korea and Russia. Trump was elected in November 2016, but the previous administration was aware of Russian interference and did nothing to stop it. Furthermore, those who criticize the Trump approach to Putin should remember how Obama dealt with the Russians. One there was the stupid ‘reset button’ presented to Russia by Secretary of State Clinton. Two there was the famous off-mic recording of the conversation between President Medvedev and Obama that went like this:
“President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”10

Oddly, Obama on a trip to South Africa gives a speech, a veiled criticism of Trump, and opines about the rise of ‘strongman politics’. In a recent study it was found that lemurs of Malagasy can smell fear. It is not only animals that have these characteristics. Obama’s appeasement policies open the door for autocratic leaders like Putin and Assad to take advantage of the situation with disastrous consequences. The fact is Obama forgets that what is happening is a backlash against his ‘lead from behind policies’.

It is easy to say that Trump missed an opportunity to publicly confront Putin, but we do not know what happened behind closed doors. In fact Trump’s election campaign was one that wanted to negotiate and make deals. Presumably that meant dealing on trade, foreign policies and nuclear proliferation. What is wrong with trying to prevent WWIII? Unfortunately his adversaries would like him to fail because his predecessors failed miserably in those areas. Too often in their attacks, they forget that in the last decade Russia has increased its influence in Syria, Iran, and has attacked Ukraine and annexed Crimea. Where was the outcry about Obama’s appeasement approach to foreign affairs?

I support Trump’s approach to negotiation. Diplomacy, as defined by current adversaries, got us nowhere His attack on so-called allies is a breath of fresh air. His demands for NATO members to pay their fair share and his attack on free trade are long overdue. For too long progressive governments in Europe and Canada have taken advantage of the U.S military might to divert their share of defence budget to social programs, and thus have contributed to the rise of socialism in these countries. The immigration open border policies are causing undue financial burden on many economies, and yet politicians do not see compassion in refugees and illegal immigrants but rather as a source for votes.

Commenting on foreign affairs, always leads me to comment on Canada’s somewhat hypocritical reporting by our media. The issue of Russian interference in U.S elections gets ample coverage, as it affects Trump. However, very little is said about interference in Canada’s elections. Why? Because presumably, the interference by Soros, Tides Foundation etc. tends to, favor the election of Liberals.

If and when the enquiries and assault on the legitimacy of Trump’s election disappear, it will be interesting to see what state the world would be in. The continuous attack on this President is doing nothing to elevate the stature of Democrats. In fact it is destroying the ability of the President to lead. By the same token if Americans and socialist progressives around the world, continuously bombarded by a bias media, would take some time to really get the facts, they would see that Trump is getting things done in a manner that no one would have expected before his election,

Although Trump admitted that he ‘misspoke’ at the Helsinki press conference, I may be proven wrong, but as a strong supporter of ‘chaotic diplomacy I believe that Trump will not condemn Putin, or abate his attacks on the establishment until all allegations of collusion are removed. Even then I do not believe he should stop his attacks on globalism. Too often in the past conservatives around the world have allowed the left to dictate the shape of things to come. It is about time that the U.S. under Trump re-establishes its leadership just like Reagan did. The game of Russian roulette being played by the left will backfire and thank goodness it will be the progressives that will lose.